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Should British Columbia change its name to reflect Indigenous history?

Cutouts of orange T-shirts are hung on a fence outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, in Kamloops, B.C., on Thursday, July 15, 2021. (Darryl Dyck / THE CANADIAN PRESS) Cutouts of orange T-shirts are hung on a fence outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, in Kamloops, B.C., on Thursday, July 15, 2021. (Darryl Dyck / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
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VANCOUVER -

It's not the first time the question has been asked, but recent investigations into Canada's residential school system have some wondering whether the names of its provinces should reflect the country's Indigenous heritage.

A poll conducted earlier this month looked at British Columbia, specifically.

Respondents were asked whether B.C. should be called something else, and if it was time to consider a new flag in the province.

The survey results suggested most residents are OK with the name, though about one-quarter felt it should be changed. According to Research Co., another 14 per cent were undecided.

Respondents were asked, "What, if anything, bothers you about the name 'British Columbia' for the province?"

Two-thirds of those polled said they weren't upset by the name, but one-in-five were bothered by the lack of acknowledgement of Indigenous peoples.

Fifteen per cent of those polled said they didn't like the "British" part of the name, while just eight per cent said they were bothered by "Columbia."

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the results varied by age.

"The debate over British Columbia's name finds very different positions from a generational standpoint," the polling company's president, Mario Canseco, said in a statement Monday.

Those aged 18 to 34 were much more likely to welcome a change than those aged 55 and over, for example, Canseco said.

Results also varied by location, according to Research Co. Residents of Northern B.C. were much more likely to be bothered by the name than those living elsewhere in the province.

The poll noted B.C.'s Queen Charlotte Islands were renamed Haida Gwaii in 2010, a decision more than half of those polled in August 2021 said they agreed with.

When it came to changing the flag – removing the Union Jack – about half said they were against it. Another 30 per cent approved of the suggestion, and 20 per cent said they weren't sure.

According to Research Co., the results of the poll are based on an online survey conducted between Aug. 7 and 9. About 800 adults who live in the province were surveyed, and the data was then weighted statistically based on census figures.

The results are considered accurate within 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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